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Rescuers Race to Find Survivors of Colombia Mudslide That Killed Over 230

Rescue workers raced on Sunday to find survivors of a mudslide that destroyed a mountain town in Colombia as the death toll rose to more than 230, the authorities said.

The surge of mud and water appeared to have wiped out much of the provincial city of Mocoa, in the department of Putumayo near the border with Ecuador.

The mudslide struck while most residents were sleeping, officials said. Here’s what we know.

The Colombian Red Cross reported that the number of those killed had risen to 234, though news outlets reported slightly higher figures.

Carlos Iván Márquez, head of Colombia’s natural disaster unit, told reporters that the authorities believed more than 200 people had been injured in the mudslide, and that 600 had been evacuated to temporary shelters.

“We have a huge challenge to find the missing people,” he said

More than 1,500 emergency workers have descended on the area to help find survivors.

The Colombian Red Cross said it had deployed 24 people, including psychologists and other specialists, to help find missing people.

“The entire capacity of the state is deployed to support the search and rescue,” President Juan Manuel Santos wrote on Twitter on Saturday.

The military was airlifting a few critically injured patients out of the area, The Associated Press reported.

The destruction was triggered when a surge of water and debris plowed through Mocoa after a sudden downpour that lasted hours and caused nearby rivers to flood while most residents slept.

The water, carrying mud and rubble, leveled many homes in its path and washed away large trucks.

“God bless, I don’t even want to remember this,” Marta Ceballos, 44, a street vendor, told RCN Radio. “Seeing how they, everyone screaming, crying, running, in cars, in motorcycles — and how the mud was enveloping everything, it was just too much.”

A surgeon at a hospital in Mocoa, Dr. Herman Granados, said that doctors were overwhelmed and that blood supplies were running low. Many people were still missing, he said.

“Under the mud, I am sure there are many more,” he said.

According to the Red Cross:

• At least 25 homes were destroyed.

• 17 neighborhoods and 300 families were affected.

• At least 202 people were injured.

• Of the 234 dead, 174 were identified.

• There were 158 reported cases of people missing.

On Sunday, the city was effectively cut off from the rest of the country as some residents huddled in shelters, nearly all without water, electricity or gasoline. Survivors charged cellphones using car batteries so that they could reach loved ones in other towns.

“There’s not a single drop of drinkable water; we need water, that’s what’s urgent, and there’s nothing to eat,” said Marisol González, the head of a nearby technological institute, told El Tiempo newspaper.

Colombia’s weather service was predicting light rains on Sunday, precipitation far less extreme than what hit the region before the mudslide.

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